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Determined, dedicated... We are runners

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Ask almost any runner with children why they run and somewhere in their answer you will hear this:

I run so my children will see me run. I get up at 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings to show my children that nothing in this world worth having comes easy. I sacrifice free time, junk food and girls’ weekends to show my daughters that hard work and determination will always garnish results. I run through three-feet of snow, torn back ligaments and blistered toes to show my sons that when you put your mind to something and work hard, anything is possible. I run for the thrill of seeing those five smiling faces cheering me on as I cross the finish line… 

Saturday was a beautiful, warm and sunny day in Cincinnati. After completing a 15-mile training run in the morning, Chuck and I loaded our three, little girls in their car seats to drive the Flying Pig Marathon course that I will be running in next week.

On one of our long runs, I’d spotted a great playground that I thought would be a perfect place for my husband, parents and children to cheer me on as I passed mile 16 of my first full marathon.

I was so excited – pointing landmarks out to Chuck. “And then we turn and run up this hill to Eden Park,” I said as we approached the notorious ‘mountain’ on the Pig course.

My husband was really amazed, surprised and somewhat curious about my mental well-being as he got to see – for the first time – what the last four months of literal blood, sweat and tears have been preparing me to do.

As we approached mile 26, I pointed to the walkway over the finish line. “I think this would be a great place for you all to watch me, “ I said. “You’ll get a great bird’s-eye view.”

After our drive, Chuck and I took our girls out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day. I remember sitting at dinner, looking out at my family and getting a little emotional. Training for a marathon isn’t just a sacrifice for the runner – it’s also a sacrifice for everyone in his or her family (especially when kids are involved.)

Every Saturday morning – since the beginning of the year – I’ve left my home before dawn, before any little eyes have opened… and my husband has been in charge of our house and all of our five kids. And as any fellow runners already know, when training for a marathon these Saturday runs aren’t just an hour. No, they stretch into the afternoon. Then when you get home, all you want to do is sink into a relaxing bathtub of ice, pop some pain medicine and go to bed. So, in all actuality, I haven’t spent a Saturday with my family in 2013.

The closer I get to my marathon, the more emotional I become. I can already tell I’m going to be a finish line crier. (I think I’m also going to be a starting line crier too.) I’ve never worked this hard for something in my entire life – especially something I decided to do for fun.

I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m prepared.

I’ve spent the last four months training not only my body, but also my mind, for what is about to happen. And being the type of person I am… I’ve thought of every possible scenario that could happen out on the course. What if I can’t sleep the night before and start the race with less than two hours of sleep? What if my back gives out at mile 15 like it did on my ‘’bad’ run? What if the blister between my toes bursts? What if it rains? What if it’s 95-degrees? What if… What if… What if…

Never in my wildest, over-active, hypochondriac-induced thought did I wonder, What if a terrorist plants bombs at the finish line? What if my children – the people I’m out there running to set a good example for – are harmed?

What happened in Boston recently is completely unimaginable. There are no words to express how I will never understand why people – other living, breathing human beings – would want to hurt the innocent. My heart wept as I heard how 8-year-old Martin Richard was cheering for his father at the finish line just moments before the blast took his young, vibrant life.

Why? I don’t know. But what I do know is that whoever did this…obviously didn’t do their homework. All I’ve head on the news is how attacks like this are meant to instill fear and terror in their subjects…Well, this lunatic targeted the wrong group of people.

We are runners! We have always run and we will always run. We run through snowstorms, monsoons and heat waves. We run through stress fractures, torn ligaments and sprained ankles. We are not individuals out on the streets on race day. We are a unified front – conquering the course. And among us are some of the bravest, strongest people on the planet.

We have Bob Wieland, a Vietnam veteran who was left with no legs after stepping on a mortar mine. This man has completed multiple marathons on his hand.

We’ve got Regine Sediva, who was just a few miles from the finish line in Boston when the blasts shook, a legally blind marathon runner. She is literally running blind.

We’ve got Rick and Dick Hoyt, the father and son team where Dick runs while pushing his son’s wheelchair. Whoever said you can’t run a marathon if you have cerebral palsy?

We are runners! We are determined, dedicated and slightly deranged! If someone thought they would scare us away, strike fear in our hearts, Stop us… Well they were wrong!

We train for months to run…and run we will.

(Sarah Dills is a former staff wrtiter for the Grant County News. She lives in Williamstown with her husband and five children.)